The 2020 Census is less than a year away, but the work to ensure a fair and accurate count for our communities is far from over. Funders Together to End Homelessness, along with nearly thirty other philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) and funders, contributed to an amicus curiae brief to contest the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
Regardless of the topic, whenever I leave the flurry of work and family life for three days to attend a funder network meeting, I can’t help but find myself wondering “Will it be worth it?” It was much easier to embrace this risk after learning that the 2019 Funders Forum would be held in San Diego at a time of year when my home town, Omaha, Nebraska, has endured a particularly brutal winter including more than 50 inches of snow and -20-degree temperatures.
On February 20, 2019, early 50 funders convened in San Diego at the 2019 Funders Forum to learn about unsheltered homelessness and building both public and political will to end it. Held in conjunction with the National Alliance to End Homelessness's Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults national conference, attendees had the opportunity to learn about unsheltered homelessness, responses to address unsheltered homelessness from communities across the country, how funders can support the work to end it, and how to build the public and political will to change the system.
For information and resources on unsheltered homelessness, visit our Unsheltered Homelessness Resource page.
Read more about the 2019 Funders Forum in the convening recap by Kristin Williams of the Sherwood Foundation.Read more
Most members of Funders Together to End Homelessness represent institutional philanthropy -- private, endowed foundations; community foundations; corporations; or United Ways. Yet the vast majority of charitable donations in the U.S. come from individuals and it has been a goal of Funders Together for a number of years to increase membership among individual philanthropists.
Over the past year, we have seen new proposals that threaten to further reduce access to affordable housing for the lowest income people, including austere budgets and cuts to housing benefits that help struggling families make ends meet. However, with the support of philanthropy, advocates across the country have been able to push back against these harmful plans. This partnership – between philanthropy and skilled advocacy – resulted in major victories. Sarah Mickelson, Senior Director of Policy at the National Low Income Housing Coalition outlines the affordable housing "wins" and what we can expect in the coming months.
In July at the 2018 Funders Institute, attendees gathered to share what they are learning about homelessness prevention, including what it is and how to work effectively with other systems to really end homelessness. The highly interactive day included a panel discussion, speed networking on what we’re each learning in our work, roundtable discussions, and opportunity to connect with multiple national leaders.
Funders Together Resources
As part of an ongoing effort to provide support and programming on advocacy, we've compiled resources that can aid you in starting and continuing the conversation in your work to prevent and end homelessness.
Funders can and should be advocates for policies and funding streams that can end and prevent homelessness. Understand the legal restrictions on private foundations’ advocacy efforts with this resource.
While there are numerous policies that may affect homelessness services and prevention, we stand behind these key policy principles.
From Our Members
Campion Foundation - Advocacy Spectrum and Tools
Published by Council on Foundations, this report explains “lobbying” versus networking and includes a step-by-step guide to contacting policymakers.
This report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy discusses best practices and the impact of philanthropic dollars devoted to advocacy.
Funders in Action: An Example of Funder Advocacy
Texas education grantmakers knew that they needed to act when the state government cut $5.4 billion from the education budget in 2011. Funders began seeing the impacts quickly; requests for grants increased dramatically from organizations that used to receive support from public schools and public-private partnerships were in danger of falling apart. In response, funders formed the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC) to push back against the massive spending cuts. Because the group was focused on the budget -- and did not get into political ideologies or education reform debates -- it was able to convene and mobilize an unprecedented number of grantmakers throughout Texas. TEGAC also invested $100,000 in research to help shape the public narrative. The programs affected by the budget cuts were the same programs that studies proved to be effective! In May 2013, the Texas legislature reinstated $4 billion out of the $5.4 billion in education funds. Although TEGAC did not take credit for the restoration of funding, the mobilization of funders and the broad support for advocacy had a tangible statewide impact. Read more about this story here.
Please contact Amanda Andere if you would like to discuss advocacy issues further.
An accurate census count is essential to our efforts to prevent and end homelessness. The numbers from the 2020 Census will be used to determine funding and service levels for the next ten years. We know that along with individuals experiencing homelessness, racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and people in poverty are historically hard to count. The 2020 Census is already facing new challenges including budget constraints, online response, and scaled back door-to-door outreach and canvassing.
As a field, the homelessness sector has experience and expertise counting these individuals. As funders, we can support our grantees to help ensure a fair and accurate count. Additionally, funders across the country are coming together to support local planning, inform policy makers, and to educate nonprofits.
The links below are a culmination of resources provided by our partners and members. If you are interested in having additional conversations on how the 2020 Census will specifically impact our efforts, please reach out to Lauren Bennett at email@example.com.
Upcoming Learning Opportunities
United State Census Bureau
- Area Census Offices for the 2020 Census
- 2020 Early Area Census Offices List
- Why Your Foundation Should Become a 2020 Census Partner
- How The Census Will Invite Everyone To Respond
From Our Partners
United Philanthropy Forum
- Census 2020: Why an Accurate Count Matters to Philanthropy
- A Critical Moment for the 2020 Census and Why Philanthropy Should Care
- Foundation Sign-on Letter: The Funders Census Initiative under the leadership of the Bauman Foundation is circulating a sign-on letter for foundations.
Funders' Committee for Civic Participation
- Census 2020 Resources
- Participate. Convene. Invest. – A Call to Action for Philanthropy
- 7 Things Funders Can Do To Support Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)
- Key 2020 Census Funder Milestones
- Census 2020 State Landscape Scan
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
- Citizen Question Non-Response:A Demographic Profile of People Who Do Not Answer the American Community Survey Citizenship Question
- Counting People Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide to 2020 Census Operations
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
Brennan Center for Justice
- Where Things Stand in the Citizenship Question Lawsuits (Oct 12, 2018)
National Conference of State Legislatures
From Our Members
I was recently asked what was the most meaningful part of my work with Funders Together. Without hesitation, I answered with what I reflect on daily: I am blessed to be among people who tirelessly work for their community, our country, and, most importantly, people they may never meet; because they believe ending homelessness is imperative to our humanity. That housing is not only a basic right, it is the pathway to opportunity.